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A round-up of the latest news from the world of motoring

■ Volkswagen premiers new T-Roc SUV

VOLKSWAGEN has revealed the T-Roc, the latest SUV to join its range.

Designed for the compact SUV market, the T-Roc will enter the German manufacturer’s line-up below the Tiguan and is the latest vehicle to be based on VW Group’s MQB platform.

The crossover will be offered with six engines at launch — three petrol and three diesels. No figures have been announced but the power units will be offered in front-wheel drive with a manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, or all-wheel drive coupled to the automatic.

As standard, the car will come with air conditioning, a full-colour infotainment system, LED tail lights and daytime running lights.

The T-Roc will be available in a base spec or with two higher trim levels: Sport and Style. Rather than one being superior, the trims are equal, offered as alternatives. Style focuses on visual touches, such as a variety of interior colour options, whereas Sport includes more driving-focused features, like sports seats.

According to Volkswagen, the T-Roc is ‘in a league of its own’ for driver assistance systems. Standard features on all models include automatic post-collision braking, lane assist, pedestrian monitoring and city emergency braking.

As for practicality, with all five seats occupied, the T-Roc offers 445 litres of luggage space. That increases to 1,290 with the rear seats folded down.

Dr Herbert Diess, chairman of the Volkswagen brand board of management, said: ‘The T-Roc sets a new benchmark in the booming SUV segment. With its functionality, dynamic handling and technology, the T-Roc embodies all good Volkswagen qualities. It marks a milestone in our SUV offensive.’

UK prices for the T-Roc have yet to be announced but in Europe orders start at €20,000 (about £18,000) and will begin in November.

■ Rural driving lessons should be compulsory

RURAL driving lessons should be compulsory for all learner drivers, according to a road safety charity.

Figures from the Department for Transport show that 120 young drivers lost their lives in 2015 — the last year for which statistics are available — with 80 per cent of these deaths occurring on country roads.

In comparison, 16 per cent took place on urban roads and just 4 per cent on motorways.

Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, said: ‘High speeds, sharp bends, narrow lanes, risky overtaking and the presence of vulnerable road users like cyclists, make rural roads the most dangerous by far. The combination of rural roads and novice drivers is lethal — a staggering 80 per cent of all young car driver fatalities occur in rural locations.

‘Brake is calling for a total overhaul of the learning to drive system to help cut fatalities and injuries. A graduated licensing system, including a minimum learning period, mandatory training on rural roads and restrictions for newly qualified drivers — such as a zero drink-drive limit — will allow new drivers to build up more skills and experience over a longer period.’

Wakeford said similar systems in Australia and New Zealand had ‘dramatically reduced road casualties’ and could save as many as 400 lives per year if introduced in Britain.

He added: ‘Brake is also calling for a review of rural speed limits and for voluntary intelligent speed adaptation systems, which help drivers keep within the limit, to be fitted as standard to new cars. There is also the need for better and more affordable public transport, so fewer young people see starting driving in their teens as a necessity.’

However, a spokesperson for the Department for Transport ruled out rural lessons being introduced.

‘We have some of the safest roads in the world and we are determined to do everything we can to make them even safer,’ the spokesperson said.

‘We encourage learner drivers to experience as many driving conditions and road types as possible before taking their test, however making lessons compulsory on rural roads would be impractical for people due to geographical distances and potential associated costs.

‘We are constantly taking action to help keep young drivers safe, including allowing learner drivers to take lessons on motorways with an approved instructor, tightening the laws on drug driving and using a mobile phone behind the wheel, and we are spending £175million upgrading 50 of England’s most dangerous local A-roads.’

■ Stunning new Ferrari Portofino to replace California T

FERRARI has pulled the wraps off its new Portofino, the replacement for the convertible California T.

Named after the famous Italian tourist port, the Portofino is powered by Ferrari’s 3.9-litre turbocharged V8, which now produces 592bhp and 760Nm of torque. This represents an increase of 32bhp and 5Nm of torque over the outgoing California T.

This boost in performance enables the Portofino to complete the benchmark dash from 0-60mph in 3.3 seconds, before hitting a top speed or more than 199mph.

The Portofino is based on a new chassis, which Ferrari claims features a significant weight saving compared with the California T, although this exact figure has not been revealed. Torsional rigidity has also been improved.

Ferrari claims the ‘extensive use of modern production technologies’ has allowed the gains in rigidity and the loss in weight.

The new Portofino also benefits from the introduction of Ferrari’s third-generation electronic rear differential (E-Diff3), improving mechanical grip and control on the limit.

Styling-wise, it has been brought in line with Ferrari’s other GT cars, with a front end that references the new 812 Superfast. Overall, the new hard-top convertible features far more aggressive looks than the car it replaces.

The cabin has also been treated to upgrades, with Ferrari adding a new 10.2-inch touchscreen display and an air conditioning system designed to improve comfort with the roof in place or folded away. A new wind deflector cuts air flow in the cabin by 30 per cent when the roof is open, reducing buffeting when travelling at speed.

The new Ferrari Portofino will make its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, which runs from September 14-24.